You'd be forgiven for thinking that Now or Never wasn't recorded by Blazin' Squad at all after the forlorn, 30-second piano solo that begins opener "Here 4 One". But then the street-gang, after-school, shouty rap comes in and you're back on familiar ground. Welcome to the (overpopulated) world of Blazin' Squad, who function as a bit of rough--a dangerous eddy--in the smooth waters of mainstream pop. "Here 4 One" does have a dusty Mexican outlaw guitar looping high in the mix though, giving it a desperate, vigilante feel that sounds more Santa Fe than East London chippie. However Blazin' Squad are best when they tone down their rapping, allowing silky-smooth R&B numbers to flourish, such as slick cut "Biggest Fan". "You're the girl who fits the picture in my mind," one of them (which one?) croons.
Lyrics aren't one of their strong points, which is why rapping is such a fatal mistake. "Still Thinking About You" has fairy-light balladry and spoken melody--yes, Blazin' Squad are the new East 17. Except on "All We Wanna Do Is Rap", where they try and sound like 50 Cent, with dark, undulating strings but little or no menace. Requests to "Turn the beat up, man" are actually comical.
This is bum-fluff rap; the sound of teenagers hanging around outside the Spar, keying your car and smoking. "This ain't Fame Academy," they sing, "These are real-life skills." Which is good, because they'll be needing them. The last song (ironically, a rather good acoustic strummathon) is called "Life's a Struggle", and you can't help thinking that, for these boys, it certainly will be now. --Cortman Virtue
When Blazin' Squad burst onto the scene last year, who among us didn't let out a mighty laugh?
Not only were they were being touted as a junior So Solid Crew, their performances became legendary must-sees for pop kids of every age, just so that we could see how amateurish the boys could be; they never disappointed. The fact that the ten strong crew (oops, we mean Squad) could bearly rub a GCSE result above a grade C together, only added to our suspicions that Blazin' Squad were some kind of big joke, only without the punchline.
But wait! A year has passed and things have bizarrely changed. And by jiminy, they've changed for the better!
While their debut album was a pick 'n' mix of wannabe So Solid hip hop tracks and substandard East 17 ballads, this second effort is, remarkably, absolutely sensational. Really!
If you've already checked out the rather saucy single, "Flip Reverse", you'll know that this time the boys have looked a little further afield than South London for inspiration. Instead, it sounds like they've been listening to their US homies and have learnt some very valuable lessons along the way.
Though some of the slowies (like the very Five-sounding "Still Thinking About You") occasionally lets them down, the harder edged tunes are simply bang on. The magestic opener "Here 4 One" is absolutely fantastic and is, quite frankly, better than anything So Solid have produced throughout their up-but-mainly-down career! "Shorty" is another gem worthy of single release, cannily fusing as it does pop melodies with dramatic chords, while even their hiphop-rification of T Rex's "Children Of The Revolution" (retitled here as simply "Revolution") hits the right spot too.
Centre piece of the whole album, though, has to be the moody Eminem-style "No Angels", which apes the great one's "Stan" and "Way I Am" but possesses a chilling and a rather epic sound of its own! This is possibly the bands greatest song so far and will be the one that they will have to top on album three. Now Or Never sees the boys growing into men.
So well done boys! This is a solid album worthy of respec'. --Christian Guiltenane
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After the success of their debut album In The Beginning the ten strong North London teenage crew release their second album Now Or Never. The album sees the boys mixing R&B, hip hop, & UK garage but with slicker & fuller sounding production work than on their debut release. Features 16 tracks including the singles We Just BeDreamin & Flip Reverse. Includes 11 print off photos & details of how to get every track as a ringtone. EastWest. 2003.